The iconic Who Pete Townshend’s Response To “The Guess Who”

Especially in the music industry, the life of rivals who become friends is not a typical tale. The music industry is notorious for its competitive nature, with artists and bands vying for the top of the pyramid. The Who and The Guess Who had a rivalry that evolved into a strong friendship. However, not everything went smoothly. Their relationship has fluctuated throughout the years.  The Who was founded in 1964 with Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon in its original lineup. The band’s success throughout the 20th century has made it one of the most influential. In the interim, they have sold over one hundred records and contributed to technological advancements in the music industry. In contrast, the Canadian rock band The Guess Who was active between the years 1968 and 1975. The band was as diligent as a band could be, releasing thirteen studio albums during their brief career.

Although they formed their respective groups in different countries a few years apart, they were unaware of each other until they were simultaneously present in the same location. The club Marquee in London is where the band members met for the first time.  Pete Townshend’s Witty Reaction To “The Guess Who” The Who and The Guess Who appear to have always had a contentious relationship. At least, this is how the media portrayed the two bands to the rest of the world. Their similar names caused a great deal of confusion, particularly with The Guess Who. They were so concerned about the possibility of confusion that they confronted The Who about changing their name.

During an interview with Loudersound, The Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman recalled the story of what transpired at The Marquee club in London. He stated that after learning of an English band named The Who, he wished to speak with them immediately in order to persuade them to change their name to avoid confusion. However, after interacting with Pete Townshend for the first time, they quickly realized that this proposal was a dead end.  Randy Bachman, guitarist for the Guess Who, describes how they confronted Pete Townshend and his response:  “When I was a member of The Guess Who, we became aware of an English band called The Who and resolved to force them to change their name. The Who were performing at The Marquee while we were in London. We went downward to confront them. This show was being filmed for German television, so we had to wait approximately four hours. We eventually encounter them and inform them, “Look, we were here before you.” Therefore, change your name; it’s causing confusion.’ Pete Townshend looked at us and responded, “The Yardbirds and The Byrds.” Nobody is perplexed by this. So bugger off.’

Both bands became close friends. And that expression was our inside joke. When we checked into a hotel and discovered that The Who were staying there, we’d call one of them at 3 a.m., and when they answered, we’d say, “Bugger off!” and hang up. They would treat us the same.” Pete Townshend gave a witty response to the Guess Who’s request to change their band’s name, stating, “Bugger off.” The Guess Who had claimed that they had been in the music scene for a much longer period of time and demanded that the Who change their name. This phrase eventually became an inside joke between the two bands and is now a fond memory.

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